My Saturday began in the pool, with tryouts for the ADP “Outstanding Graduate” award, which comes with a scholarship to the next LA County instructor program (UICC). The award depends on a lot of factors (academics, diving, overall attitude, etc), but the pool tryouts are definitely an important part. Basically, it’s a chance to try your hand at the skills you’ll have to be able to do really well in UICC.
I’m not sure if the tryouts were fun in a sucky way, or if they sucked in a fun way. There’s something about shared suffering that kept it from being actually unpleasant, but some of the tasks were pretty trying. Only seven of us showed up, including Meca – and she didn’t plan on trying for the scholarship, or even doing the scuba portion of the tryouts.
So our Saturday morning went like this:
- 400 yard swim in under 10 minutes. This may actually have been my best moment of the day; I came in at 8:08, behind only David (who plays underwater hockey regularly and is an amazing swimmer and freediver).
- 25 yard underwater swim, then carry a 10 pound weight belt up from the deep end. Extra points if you swim up without pushing off the bottom. I wasn’t worried about this once since I’ve been practicing 25 yard underwater swims, but it was harder than I expected. I guess my adrenaline was going because I was nervous about being judged; that’ll suck up your oxygen pretty quick. I was seriously considering giving up and trying again when I finally saw the weight belt 10 feet away. Well, I couldn’t quit then! I made it, with the bonus points.
- 10 minutes treading water, 30 seconds treading water with your arms up in the air. No problem. We passed the time sharing bad jokes. Meca and I discovered that we have the same favorite stupid joke (you know that one with elephants and sheep?) What were the odds?
- 50 yard buddy tow with no swim aids (ie, fins). No problemo.
- Skin DNR (ditch and recovery) – I’ve discussed this before ad nauseam on this blog. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, especially when you add a 40 foot underwater swim after doffing your gear, and before donning it. I managed the doff plus swim, but the return the swim-plus-don was too much. Oh well; the 40 feet were for extra points, and I was able to do the DNR going straight down. But I think this is where I started to slip in the rankings!
- Buddy breathe combo. Drop down in the deep end with a buddy. One person takes off their mask, the indicates they are out of air. The other person shares their primary regulator, and then the two swim together to the other end of the pool (50 yards), sharing air the whole way. My incredibly powerful, easily-freeflowing regulator makes this a bit of a pain, but the return trip (on my buddy’s regulator) was perfect.
- Bailout. Jump into the deep end holding all your gear (and the air turned off), and put it on underwater. I did this quite well, despite having very little weight on my weight belt, which makes it hard to stay down before you get the tank and BC on. However, I didn’t want any additional weight – and in fact, could have done with a lot less – because of the next skill.
- 300 yard surface snorkel. In full SCUBA gear. With no air in your BC. AND CARRYING A TEN POUND WEIGHT BELT THE WHOLE WAY. This just completely sucked for everyone. My tank is so ridiculously negative that I actually don’t need any additional weights to sink, so the 6 pounds I took for my belt in the bailout really hurt me here! You wind up swimming at a funny 45 degree angle to keep yourself afloat. We all did ok in the deep end of the pool, but 25 yards of the pool are only 3 feet deep. It’s impossible to get in good fin kicks there, so it was a real struggle to stay off the bottom, while keeping my head high enough that no water got in my snorkel. I did a lot more stopping and resting than I should have, and I think this skill hurt me the most. But seriously. IT SUCKED. I know I wasn’t the only one who started to have serious concerns about drowning.
So that was my morning. After lunch with the gang, I drove around with Meca to do a little shopping (small gifts for our team leaders and safety divers). The shopping didn’t take long, but there was quite a bit of driving involved since I also dropped her back off in Santa Monica. She lives just about spitting distance from where I used to work at the promenade, so it was actually kind of cool to see the neighborhood. And I didn’t actually mind the extra drive, as she and I are never short on things to talk about! If I get nothing else out of ADP, I made a great new friend who’s also a good dive buddy.
I made it home in time to wrap presents, shower and throw on clothes and makeup, along with my new cowrie necklace from Marineland.
Then it was off to the banquet, held at a swanky athletic club in downtown LA with banquet facilities.
It’s always weird to see people that you know from diving (hood hair, mucus on their faces, ratty sweatpants) all dressed up and pretty! the girls in particular clean up quite nicely. You can sort of see my cowrie in this picture:
To end any suspense, I didn’t win the scholarship. I’m pretty bummed, actually, even though I agree with the awards that were given out. Meca won Best Academics, and David took Best Watermanship – neither of those were a surprise (except to Meca, who looked genuinely shocked).
I’d suspected that the Outstanding Graduate would come down to Kelly and myself (and it sounds like that was the case). I was genuinely glad when he won, but at the same time, I have to admit I feel a little rejected. Ray reminded me I should be really proud that I was one of the top contenders for Outstanding Graduate, when I began the course afraid to even go in the water when the surf was up. I guess that is pretty impressive.
ADP 2006 Graduates:
Well, I have until January to decide about UICC. In the meantime, I guess I’d better practice my DNRs.